Unlocking Renewable Energy: A Comprehensive Guide to the Investment Tax Credit

Unlocking Renewable Energy: A Comprehensive Guide to the Investment Tax Credit

Explore the enhanced Investment Tax Credit (ITC) under the Inflation Reduction Act, designed to make renewable energy investments more accessible and rewarding, with strategic enhancements, application guidelines, and insights into the future of clean energy financing.

By Abby Massey ・ 6 min read
Industry Insights

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a tool designed to make renewable energy more affordable and reduce the overall ROI for renewable projects. This tax credit allows renewable property owners to reclaim a significant chunk of the cost to design and install renewable energy systems. This incentive encourages the investment in property such as solar, wind, geothermal, and other green technologies.

The Investment Tax Credit at a Glance

At its core, the ITC is designed to provide a credit for renewable energy installations by allowing system owners - ranging from taxable businesses to tax-exempt entities - to claim a tax credit the year in which the property was placed into service. For tax-exempt entities, this can be done through the elective pay process. The ITC has been a cornerstone of renewable energy policy in the United States, fostering an environment conducive to investment in renewable technologies.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in 2022, the ITC has been both extended and enhanced, allowing a base credit of 30% for eligible renewable energy projects under 1 MW. The act broadens the scope of technologies eligible for the ITC, including but not limited to solar and wind technologies, energy storage technologies, fuel cells, microgrids, and geothermal solutions. This expansion is pivotal, as it recognizes the diverse technological pathways necessary for a comprehensive clean energy transition.

Strategic Enhancements to the ITC

Several strategic enhancements were made to the ITC under the updated IRA. Below we outline these enhancements and the potential value for a qualifying renewable energy project.

  1. Credit Percentage: The ITC provides a base tax credit of 30% for qualifying renewable energy investments that are 1 MW or less in size. It has increased its scope to include these various technologies:
    • Solar equipment for energy generation or illumination
    • Geothermal for energy generation or heating a structure
    • Small wind energy
    • Waste energy recovery
    • Energy/thermal storage
    • Electrochromic glass
    • Combined heat and power
    • Biogas property
    • Microgrid controller

For properties sized over 1 MW of energy, the base credit is 6%, but can be increased to 30% if the project meets prevailing wage & apprenticeship requirements as described in section 5 below.

  1. Bonus Credits: Additional credits are available for meeting specific criteria on the project. For projects over 1 MW, each add-on credit allows for an additional 2%. Smaller projects or projects meeting prevailing wage & apprenticeship requirements allow for an additional 10%.
    • Domestic Content Bonus: An additional credit given if a significant portion of the project's construction materials are manufactured in the U.S.
    • Energy Community Bonus: An additional credit for projects located in energy communities, typically areas economically affected by shifts from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This can also include brownfield sites.
    • Low-Income Communities and Tribal Projects: An additional credit for projects in low-income areas or on tribal lands. This credit can vary up to 20% but is only available for solar or wind projects.

If a project qualifies for the higher base credit and all add-on credits, it is possible to get a 70% investment tax credit for a renewable project.

  1. Transferability and Direct Pay Options: The Inflation Reduction Act includes provisions that allow certain tax-exempt entities, such as governments and nonprofits, to receive the credit as a direct payment from the U.S. Treasury, effectively monetizing a tax credit for entities that could not typically benefit from this program.
  2. Transferring/Selling Credits: The Inflation Reduction Act also allows taxpayers who install renewable property to transfer or sell their investment tax credits to eligible buyers. 
  3. Apprenticeship and Wage Requirements: For renewable projects larger than 1 MW, prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements must be met to qualify for the base credit of 30% and add-on credits at 10%. These requirements must be met for all laborers and mechanics on the project.

How to Apply for the ITC

Businesses can apply for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) by following these general steps:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Before applying, businesses should ensure they are installing eligible renewable property such as solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable energy systems. In addition, size of the system and qualification for any add-on credits should be identified.
  2. Consult with Professionals: To ensure success in claiming the ITC, tax professionals, such as TaxTaker, who are familiar with the ITC and its requirements should be involved throughout the project. They can advise on the complexities of the tax credit and provide a compliant calculation of the final credit to be claimed.
  3. Pre-Registration and Filing: To claim the ITC, entities should determine if they need to pre-register the project through the IRS. It’s also important to identify the proper tax forms and worksheets that should be filed to claim the credit.
  4. Maintain Documentation: Businesses should follow proper recordkeeping standards related to the eligible energy system. Important records may include expenditures, design drawings, completion records, material or supply-chain certificates, and other substantiating documents that support the amount of the credit that is claimed. 

The Future of Clean Energy Financing

Looking ahead, the IRA sets the stage for a transition to technology-neutral tax credits starting in 2025, with the Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit. These credits are designed to be inclusive of all generation facilities and energy storage systems with zero anticipated greenhouse gas emissions, further underscoring the IRA's commitment to a holistic approach to clean energy incentives.


The Investment Tax Credit under the IRA is more than a financial mechanism; it is a reflection of a broader commitment to leveraging policy as a catalyst for clean energy adoption, economic growth, and environmental justice. By enhancing and extending the ITC, the IRA not only bolsters the economic case for renewable energy projects but also aligns financial incentives with the critical societal goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting equitable access to clean energy, and fostering a sustainable future.

As the United States navigates the complexities of the energy transition, the ITC stands as a testament to the power of policy to drive change. It offers a blueprint for how targeted financial incentives can mobilize investment, catalyze technological innovation, and pave the way for a cleaner, more resilient energy landscape.

About the author

Abby Massey
VP of Energy Incentives

Abby Massey is an expert in applying tax incentives for clean energy initiatives. With a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and licenses in 47 states plus the District of Columbia, Abby offers significant expertise to her role at TaxTaker as the Vice President of Energy Incentives. Her experience includes certifying over 1,400 179D deductions, achieving more than $100 million in savings for clients. As a LEED Accredited Professional, Abby is dedicated to sustainable building practices. In her role at TaxTaker, she focuses on optimizing energy incentives for clients by leveraging her in-depth understanding of the 179D program, aiming to improve business sustainability and efficiency.

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